October 2, 2005 - February 7, 2006

Greek flag

Athens Acropolis
Athens Acropolis

Our first thoughts were to leave Russia overland by a south-east route and travel through Georgia into Turkey. But on Craig's List we found an airy apartment in Athens, available for four months. Well, we thought, why not enjoy some winter warmth, practice Russian, and catch up on our web? So we took the place and are very satisfied with the decision.

At first we weren't too impressed with Athens: not as pretty as Paris, not as much obvious culture as Paris, Berlin, or the Russian cities. But with time we learned there was much on offer that was not readily apparent. When we arrived it was still warm enough to swim in the Saronic gulf, and we did so twice. Then the days got shorter and then they got colder and we turned to walks and indoor pursuits. We've now seen the Acropolis, the Agoras, and all the major archeological sites and museums and they are wonderful and some lesser known ones too that have their own charm.

We've done it in a very laid-back manner, going out only every other day or less.

A favorite past time is to sit on the terrace eating, drinking, or just reading a book. Greek salads with plenty of olives and chops with lots of tzatziki sauce make up a big part of our diet. Although the temperature has dipped, as soon as the sun comes out the terrace traps all of its warmth and we bask in it even on the coldest days.

Besides Jan's intense concentration on Russian we experience four other languages. We've been to seminars in English, Greek (with and without translation), and French. We get lots and lots of French on TV5 and lots and lots of the BBC on Athens International Radio. We have found the British Council and use its library now and again.

We've had two very uncommon experiences in Athens: we worked for two days and Gerry appeared on the radio. One day Jan got an email asking if she would like to review a text before publication and correct its English. Yes she (we) said and earned our first money in years. Gerry wrote to the BBC about a program he heard on life imprisonment in the USA without parole and was invited a month later to give his views on the air. Fun!

Athens Under Construction

The photo above shows the only disturbance to life on the quiet side street that our apartment is on. The neighbor across the street decided to clear a vacant lot ready for construction. The noise only lasted a couple of days, then the machines went away and the lot was left to await building permits perhaps.

November 8, 2005